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Alligators, Old Mink & New Money: One Woman's Adventures in Vintage Clothing    by Alison Houtte & Melissa Houtte order for
Alligators, Old Mink & New Money
by Alison Houtte
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2006 (2005)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

'People without a sense of fun, of dash, of whim, may misunderstand Fashion' said American designer Claire McCardell (1905-1958). So begins a delightful romp through the world of vintage fashion. Alison Houtte capitalized on her height (5' 11") to become a popular model, both in the States and abroad. As happens to us all, age caught up with her. Not alarmingly so. Just enough that her look sees from designers and her agent diminished. She was then smart enough to switch her interests to her love of vintage clothes.

Houtte acquired a real sense of fashion through her genes. Both her mother and grandmother loved good clothes and had the savvy to put a smart look together. Houtte opened a shop of vintage clothing in New York with trepidation. Almost from the first day, she and her shop (Hootie Couture) were a success. When her shop's lease was not renewed, she moved to Flatbush Avenue and continues to operate from that spot. She has loyal customers - those who recognize brands and others who just like the looks they can create. Alison herself wore her mother's navy blue slip as a dress to a do and was an instant hit!

The tales of Alison Houtte's customers and suppliers are wonderful memories for her. The real finds live in her mind although she almost always sells them - for a reasonable price. She is her best ad, wearing vintage clothing and accessories in her shop to show what can be created with fine old styles and fabrics. She clearly loves what she does. How many of us can be that lucky? In Alligators, Old Mink & Money, Houtte brings the world of vintage clothing to life and explains its appeal. She is very generous with advice about flea markets and thrift stores. Also about what to look for - both good and not so good.

Which goes to prove that that which is old is not necessarily destined for the dumpster. Although I prefer the term older than old - both for the clothes in my closet as well as for myself.

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